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  • Cy White

Healy: Tungsten

It's sort of like when Hideo Kojima officially ruined first-person survival horror by introducing his then revolutionarily yet simple repeating room concept with his Silent Hills playable teaser in 2014. After Frank Ocean released Blond(e), every tenor in R&B who was more mumble and apathetic delivery decided they, too, had the emotional angst of Ocean's diary-like albums. That is to say, you can tell a clone from a mile away. It's not subtle and most certainly as interesting as the orignal (or, in the case of Hideo-san and Ocean, not nearly as interesting an iteration on a simple concept).

From the first song, Healy leans heavily on Ocean's aesthetic, even borrowing song titles, vocal inflections, seemingly random, unrelated sound effects and monologues and composition. It's an easy listen, to be sure. Something that sounds good and feels good, but mostly because I've heard it done before and liked it then. Therefore my ear is drawn to it regardless of if I've heard a better version of it in the past. In this way Tungsten intrigues but doesn't necessarily interest me.

I'm drawn into something familiar, so familiar my mind retreats to to its much more emotionally heady predecessor. I acknowledge Tungsten for what it is -- a smooth, easy "alternative R&B" album. But that's as far as it goes. Going back to the Silent Hills reference. It's like the scripted diatribe at the end of PT: After a while the trope gets tired, to the point that even when it dies (loses its edge) that even proves utterly boring. Tungsten walks and talks like the original, but it lacks the soul and authenticity of it. Which is unfortunate. Disappointment stings more than straight-out dislike. I'm disappointed that yet another pretender comes in taking something that worked better in its original skin.


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